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Every indigenous culture has innate traditional wisdom of the medicinal and ther apeutic uses of their native

plants. However much of this knowledge is deteriora ting due to the rise of globalization and the importation of the cheaper and mor e readily available fast food diet. This trend, consequently, is causing a wide va riety of wild edible plants to be erased from the Lebanese diet and heritage. Upon the completion of a two-year research project titled Wild Edible Plants: Pro moting Dietary Diversity in Poor Communities of Lebanon, University of Ottawa Pro fessor Dr. Malek Batal teamed up with the American University of Beiruts Nature C onservation Center for Sustainable Futures (IBSAR), to produce The Healthy Kitche n, Recipes from Rural Lebanon. According Dr. Batal, the region is blessed with great biodiversity, and the popul ation has access to many edible wild plants that could be easily harvested and u sed. The harvesting and use of these wild plants is, however, on the decline due to eroding knowledge and environmental degradation, which is threatening the su rvival of this fragile resource. Today the Lebanese diet has moved away from the traditional Mediterranean diet a nd now relies heavily on refined foods like white flour and vegetable fats, crea ting an increase in obesity rates. After two years of research, Dr. Batal has collected an array of recipes still u sed in three rural areas of Lebanon Hermel and particularly the village of Kuakh , Aarsal in the Eastern Bekaa, and the Chouf village of Batloun, Kfarnabrakh, an d Warhaniyeh. One simple and nutritious dish is tabbouleh with lentils, a hearty salad rich in vitamin C and containing a substantial amount of iron, supplied b y the parsley and the lentils. In the case of the Lebanese rural populations traditional diet, we found a shift i n food consumption. There were more pasta or rice dishes as opposed to tradition al foods using wild edible plants or traditional grains, says Dr. Batal. The poor are always the first affected by an unbalanced diet, one reason being that refin ed starch, vegetable oil, white bread, chips and processed foods are less expens ive than healthier alternatives such as fresh fruits and vegetable and lean meat s. We are trying to encourage people to include more vegetables, fruits and prot eins for a healthier diet. The recipes in the book are original recipes acquired from the regions they orig inate from. For each edible plant used in the recipe the author provides a detai led description of its regional and historical dynamics as well as therapeutic u ses, active compounds and scientific name. The idea was to compile a book that offers the Lebanese a look at the traditiona l cuisine because people tend to choose a more western diet. Research and interv iews were conducted with the women who were known, in their respective communiti es, to be knowledgeable about traditional Lebanese cuisine. Making a written record of these dishes was of vital importance since all of the recipes from the villages were orally passed down from mother to daughter. The ten most common dishes cited during the interviews were replicated and tested fo r nutrient content and potential health benefits. The book brings the Lebanese reader back in touch with ancestral knowledge that has been preserved through generations. It offers in depth research and scientif ic knowledge of the medicinal benefits of the various herbs that exist in tradit ional Lebanese culinary practices. Although the majority of the wild plants mentioned are not easily available in B eirut, Dr. Batals book offers readers a fun and quick approach to creating a heal

thier lifestyle and substitutions are always possible with more readily availabl e greens.